Friday, December 31, 2010

soup doctor

Lookit this Tex-Mex reminiscent delight!


Would you believe this inspiring creation was cobbled together by the dregs and remnants of my refrigerator and pantry?


A single sweet potato… a single taco shell… leftover rice… last remnants of frozen Trader Joe’s soycotash… leftover rice and beans from work that I didn’t want to leave in the fridge to go bad… last of some Trader Joe’s black bean soup that is BLAND… and some salsa, obvi.

Gave the sweet potato a saute to get a little browned and flavorful…


Then poured on the black bean soup, thinned out with a little water (I cleaned out the box with a few splashes—hate to leave any black bean residue behind). The sweet potato chunks cooked in that just til tender.


Then I crumpled up the taco shell, in the theory that it’d be like migas, kind of (which it was! Kind of!), and addd the soycotash. Then the rices.


Finished off with some salsa, cooked til all stew-ified.

For garnishes, I rummaged through the fridge and unearthed a partially eaten container of olives (who knows), some fairly antique green onions that I did a little triage on, and an avocado.


And there you have it! Cooked, garnished, rounded out with a leafy green vegatable.

Colorful, nutrient-rich, virtuously-leftover-utilizing, flavorful goodness.


A less pretty but equally impressive endeavor:


This began with some leftover summer sausage and bean soup. Amping up the fresh produce factor with a spud, some fairly antique mushrooms, and onion.


Cooking sprayed a pan and tossed in the summer sausage to brown up and render off a bit of fat, at which point I added the onions and let them brown up for a bit, then the mushrooms and let them all brown up a bit longer. Fun and messy and good smelling.


Meanwhile I precooked the potato, sliced up, in the microwave til mostly tender.


And potato and soup got thrown into the sausage-veggie mix, along with some water for thinning. Let ‘em cook down together to let the flavors meld a bit.

Et voila, mismatched bowls for mama, sister, and self.


Sausage and potato and beans together are awesome. There is a reason it is such a classic combination.


But as so frequently happens with me, the protein-y “entree” got serously upstaged by the side dish. The meal was rounded out with Chili-Brown Sugar Delicata Squash with Pears.

Or, yknow, kabocha squash. With Asian pears. Bounty of the farmer’s market :D




Beautiful orange and green strips of luscious, tender, rich sweet and spicy goodness.

I cannot even convey with words how good this tasted so you just have to MAKE IT, please.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

recycling and rumination

Thursday was glorious. I woke up in the morning and went “!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t have to go to work!”

I mean, I woke up at 7:30. Which was disappointing.

But, following an invigorating breakfast, I scampered off to the mall to do frantic, last-second Christmas shopping. Which was totally successful and then I did AWESOME AWESOME ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY RECYCLED GIFT WRAPPING!


Seriously, one ancient issue of Vogue and a token few pages from Eating Well and I was completely set on Christmas wrapping. And it was so fun and unique and inventive!


A puppy and a lollipop for my dog and sugar loving father; a Vogue’d out box for my fashionista cousin, and Christopher Walken for my boyfriend. For cool points. Christopher Walken, you are so f***ing cool.

You can also do personalized messages which are fun.


When that was finished, I realized I had TIME TO EAT LUNCH.

I have grown to detest lunch at work. It is always a stress-filled time when I am meeting with four different people, preparing a bazillion tasks for the day, and stuffing food indiscriminately into my mouth, paying no attention to its flavors, receiving no satisfaction whatsoever. It is SO BAD FOR ME. I HATE IT.

Whilst home for the holidays, I am SOAKING UP the feeling of being able to prepare and then savor a proper lunch.

As evidenced by my multitude of yogurt pictures. And the joy I got from using the smiley mug bowl.

DSC02099DSC02098 DSC02100 DSC02101

In actuality, it is a vair simple thing: just yogurt and apples and cinnamon (though both yogurt and apples are both from the farmer’s market and scrumpsh). But what a loverly thing, to be able to eat it from a dish, not a tupperware, and have time to go “Hey! This yogurt is creamy and tangy! This apple is crunchy and sweet!”


I also got the joy of crankin’ up my countertop oven to make myself a hot lunch!

1 parsnip, made into fries.


Slice parsnips into fry shapes (you could peel them first… or you could choose to not care). Spray with cooking spray on both sides. Bake at 425 until crispy on both sides, flipping halfway through. Vair delicious. Like candy!


With my fries I had my faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaavorite sandwich: hummus (homemade with some leftover kalamata olives) and avocado. On a Sandie Thin.


Such a delight to have the natural light of my kitchen rather than the fluorescence of my workplace.


Together with yogurt. And tea. And sunshine. And the paper. And peace of mind.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

fed by family

Tis the season for holiday parties! My uncle Andrew and aunt Nan hosted their usual dazzling display last Saturday, and I really did feel like a photographer for some awesome food magazine.

There was cheese… and cheese… and cheese and cheese and cheese.


There were gorgey crunchy endive boats (and endive always makes me think of my grandma and that makes me happy).


I thoroughly enjoyed all the savory offerings but really didn’t bother to photograph too many of them because… because… dear God, the dessert table.


Buche de noel! Homemade candies! Blondies! Cookies!

And then some more cookies!




Nan’s baking fills me with awe. She is also extremely casual about the whole thing, as opposed to me, the person who goes “LOOK AT WHAT I MADE. EAT IT. EAT IT ALL. TELL ME HOW GOOD IT IS.”

Their house is also very fun at parties because with the clever use of tarps and Christmas lights, they turn their garage into a bar.

My sister offered to pose provocatively.



Our contribution to the evening was the “secret family recipe” for artichoke dip.

It’s not a secret, but it definitely is on the family’s greatest hits list, as evidenced by the fact that not one but two people made it for just this party.

As with most good things in life, it begins with cheese. My mother would be loath to give you an exact quantity, but I’d say 2 1/2 cups wouldn’t be off the mark. Cheddar. Grated. We did a mix of regular and white cheddar (we finally, FINALLY finished the six pounds of cheese my mom won!)


Next, two cans of artichokes, given a chopsie, and garlic, minced. Don’t skimp on the garlic. For this batch, which made two bowls of dip, my mom used four cloves. “Nice fat ones”, in my mother’s exact words.


For binding? Good old fashioned mayo. About 1/4 cup. You can use low fat. Stir it all together.


Then bake in a 350 degree oven until the edges are browned. This sometimes takes 30 minutes, I guess, but this time it took weirdly long. Perhaps it was because we used lite mayo! Anyway, take it out of the oven, feed it to your loved ones, and watch their eyes roll back in their head.


True story: my mom had invited her friends to a holiday party, and they knew they would be late. They called her from the road and begged her not to put out the artichoke dip until they arrived, so they would get some before everyone ate it all.

So simple, so powerful.


And we now reach Christmas Eve dinner, hosted by my aunt Dena and uncle Louie.

Following the tradition started by my grandma back in the day, we always do chicken curry Christmas Eve. It’s really not remotely like anything you’d eat in India, it’s more like… chicken and gravy with a certain exotic flair.

In the Indian-ish tradition, they also made samosas with puff pastry (!). Ohhhhhhhh yessssssssss.


Tangy sweet fruity filling. SO good.

Aaaand the traditional curry…


With various choices of vegetable and fruit accompaniments.


I was feeling plant-y so I just helped myself to scads of salads, rice and almond pilaf, naan and raita (multiply that quantity by about five!), and samooooooooooooooooosas.


Erin tagged along for the occasion (well, actually I forced her, in the theory that even if someone is Jewish they should not be alone on Christmas Eve!)

And she looked crazy fierce (I’m very proud of this shot- I got it when we were all warming our toes by Dena and Louie’s epic fireplace).


And then we had a cute little photoshoot of scarf action:


And boot action:


And monkey action: